Kinematics used by world class tennis players to produce high-velocity serves

Sports Biomech. 2003 Jan;2(1):51-64. doi: 10.1080/14763140308522807.


The purpose of this study was to quantify ranges and speeds of movement, from shoulder external rotation to ball impact, in the tennis service actions of world class players. Two electronically synchronised 200 Hz video cameras were used to record 20 tennis players during singles competition at the Sydney 2000 Olympic games. Three-dimensional motion of 20 landmarks on each player and racquet were manually digitized. Based upon the mean values for this group, the elbow flexed to 104 degrees and the upper arm rotated into 172 degrees of shoulder external rotation as the front knee extended. From this cocked position, there was a rapid sequence of segment rotations. The order of maximum angular velocities was trunk tilt (280 degrees/s), upper torso rotation (870 degrees/s), pelvis rotation (440 degrees/s), elbow extension (1510 degrees/s), wrist flexion (1950 degrees/s), and shoulder internal rotation. Shoulder internal rotation was greater for males (2420 degrees/s) than females (1370 degrees/s), which may be related to the faster ball velocity produced by the males (50.8 m/s) than the females (41.5 m/s). Although both genders produced segment rotations in the same order, maximum upper torso velocity occurred earlier for females (0.075 s before impact) than for males (0.058 s). At impact, the trunk was tilted 48 degrees above horizontal, the arm was abducted 101 degrees and the elbow, wrist, and lead knee were slightly flexed. Male and female players should be trained to develop the kinematics measured in this study in order to produce effective high-velocity serves.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Arm / physiology
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Exercise / physiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Knee / physiology
  • Male
  • Rotation
  • Sex Factors
  • Shoulder / physiology
  • Task Performance and Analysis*
  • Tennis / physiology*